Agency Communication Guide for Clients That Need ‘Simple‘ Changes

Agency Communication Guide for Clients That Need ‘Simple‘ Changes
  • 5 min read

Welcome to the dynamic world of web development. Or, as we call it, WordPress! We all know how clients love to bring their ideas for ‘small and quick’ tweaks to their websites. Everyone has experienced the classic, Friday afternoon ‘Just add a button’ or ‘Make this text a different font,’ right? While these requests may sound simple, and we want our clients to love us, it’s crucial to handle them with care.

Just Add a Button: The ‘Simple’ Change Adventure

Even the smallest modifications can have a big impact on the UX, website structure, and overall success of your website. Adding a seemingly innocent button might be a five-minute job, or it might mean adjusting the entire layout.

Small changes don’t have to be a bad thing though. Button color matters. Font size matters. Time to First Byte matters – and we’re talking about the importance of microseconds. A simple change might result in big wins for your websites, but too many may also become headaches.

How do you manage simple change requests? You need a solid grasp of WordPress and the potential implications of each modification – both for the front and the backend. You also need to be a good communicator. Now, you might have those skills, but do your clients?

The first thing you’ll want to look at is our agency integration with Atarim right in the control panel, making is easy to collaborate with clients for any changes they’re requesting.

Leverage Atarim for managing website changes for clients

Open Source and Open Communications: Setting the Right Expectations and Deliverables

Clients may not always be familiar with the complexities of website development, so it’s crucial to communicate potential costs and time delays. Take the time to explain the intricacies of each change. Provide a clear breakdown of the cost and time implications. Transparency builds trust, ensures clients aren’t caught off guard, and showcases your agency’s expertise and dedication.

Agency Communication Guide: 5 Steps for Better Communication

The name of the game is building strong and lasting client relationships. You can do that easier with an open, empathetic, and proactive communication style. We’re not all born communicators, but anyone can learn how with these 5 easy steps:

  1. Be actively engaged with clients. Don’t be hesitant, set aside the time and actively listen, and, if you’re in the same room, maintain eye contact. Actively participate in conversations by asking questions and ensuring everyone’s concerns have been addressed.
  2. Genuinely care about your client. Try to understand their perspectives better by listening to their feedback and asking questions.
  3. Be transparent and vulnerable. We’re only human! Admit mistakes, be transparent about challenges, and demonstrate your authenticity. Building trust with your clients means they will still be there tomorrow.
  4. Stay calm! Manage the conversation. If it starts going off-road, redirect the conversation back to the client’s needs.
  5. Be respectful of everyone. Engage with all clients, not just the top dogs. Regardless of their position or perceived value in the project. They could be the next one hiring you!

Open, transparent communication is the key to success in website development, both with clients and within your team. By proactively discussing requested changes, no matter how small, you can ensure that everyone involved is on board. This approach builds trust, prevents unrealistic expectations, and lays the groundwork for a great partnership with your clients.

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Preventing Scope Creep in Those Simple Changes

Simple change requests have a sneaky way of snowballing into more extensive modifications. This is commonly known as ‘scope creep.’ To tackle scope creep, create detailed project plans and time-based milestones. Clearly defining the scope of work and anticipated timelines for each phase keeps everyone on the same page. 

Bonus tip: define the jargon in your milestones. Not all clients know what “wireframes” are, for example. They could be thinking of glasses. No joke. Real talk.  

Well-written project plans offer a structured approach to handling change requests and ensuring that they align with the project goals and budget. And they help manage client expectations. Win-win!

While you might have these as boilerplate, do you also manage simple changes in the same detailed way? Do you have a flowchart? No? That’s when a simple change can become a kitchen sink change.

“It’s important to note what scope creep is not. If extra work is requested and the budget is adjusted then this is not scope creep. New feature requests, although part of the same problem are not really creeping in, perhaps we should call this ´scope stuffing`. It’s bad too, but scope creep is much more complex.”

Case in Point — Going from Simple Changes to Scope Creep: Managing Expectations within an Online Shop

There are more than 150 million WooCommerce shops operating today and your agency might have made one or more of them. Woo’s free plugin is so flexible and easily customized, that it’s no surprise it’s the most popular eCommerce plugin on the market today.

Let’s look at some of the changes a client might want to make on their WordPress online shop to see where scope creep might set in.

Simple Change: Adding Social Media Buttons
Time required: less than an hour

The change: The client wants to add a social media sharing button to individual blog posts on their site. Perhaps this is a share function added to a product page.

What it means: Embedding social media sharing buttons can be done with plugins or theme customization. It’s a straightforward process. Most WordPress themes have built-in social media icons, allowing you to simply add the URLs. WooCommerce does too. Creating custom icons may add some time to the process but libraries are available.

Less Simple Change: Customizing the Shop Header
Time required: 1 to 4 hours

The change: The client wants a unique look for their website shop header, including a custom logo placement, navigation menu adjustments, and a specific color scheme.

What it means: Modifying the website header involves some customization within the theme, including CSS adjustments and maybe even some additional coding. It requires testing to maintain responsive design across devices. Customization options include changing the logo, perhaps adding social media icons, altering the menu layout, and replacing the background image. The time commitment, of course, varies depending on the complexity of the modifications.

Scope Creep: Expanding E-commerce Functionality
Time required: 4 hours +

The change: You were initially hired to set up a basic online store with WooCommerce. It’s live and looking great! Now the client is requesting additional features such as advanced product filtering, a loyalty program, or integration with a CRM system. That simple button to “subscribe” actually requires integration with a CRM system that hasn’t been chosen yet. See? Not so simple now.

What it means: Simple eCommerce projects can sometimes evolve into complex undertakings, necessitating additional development time, plugins, and potential website architecture modifications. The functionality expansion described will definitely involve some work! It’s not a simple change.

Even Simple Changes Can Strengthen Client Relationships

Great client communication boils down to building strong relationships. We all strive to surpass our client’s expectations. We all want to deliver results that resonate long after the project is completed. A happy client is a loyal client, and they will return for future projects.

By openly communicating, proactively addressing client expectations, managing scope creep with finesse, and consistently delivering high-quality work, your agency can easily handle the challenges of those simple change requests – and those not-so-simple ones.

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